Lewis Hamilton’s last gasp tactics in the closing stages of an enthralling season deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix have been in the spotlight in the aftermath of the race which resulted in Nico Robserg winning the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship title, but not after a tense battle at Yas Marinas Circuit.
Hamilton had two options: one was to roar into the distance and win the final race by a country mile, thus cementing himself as the best of the best or take the risk of battling against the odds to try and destabilise his title rival.
He chose the latter and as we know the ploy failed he lost the title, while triggering off massive debate with one side labeling the tactics as ‘dirty tricks’ and another faction hailing the tenacity of the triple world champion.
Here are some of the quotes – in no particular order – which we have been able to dig up regarding the matter.
Jody Scheckter: “The whole controversy is ridiculous. Tactics is part of the sport just like anything else. And it happens in other sports all the time.”
Nigel Mansell: “I’m a sportsman and I’d never do that. It’s just wrong.”
Niki Lauda: “I understand what Lewis did, but I would not do it.
Sir Jackie Stewart: “In my day I cannot think of any driver who would have driven very slow to back a rival into the chasing pack. You have to do what you can and of course follow the instructions from your team. ”
Mark Webber said: “Most drivers would have driven like Lewis. I’m sure Mercedes will clear it up with him. I can understand the situation from the perspective of the racing team. But I can also understand Lewis from a racer’s perspective. It is about the world title, since you try as a driver must try everything. We can drop the whole discussion, because it does not change anything.”
Carlos Sainz: “I would have done the same. When you’re a winner and want to be champion, you have to try everything you can. Always within the rules, as he did. He did exactly what needed to be done, putting some pressure on Nico and see how he reacted.”
Max Verstappen: “I think Lewis was trying to back us up, and I probably would have done the same. You have to try these things to win a championship.”
Sebastian Vettel: “It was a difficult situation in the end with Lewis playing some dirty tricks.”
Allan McNish: “Hamilton did nothing wrong within the rules of F1. Equally, he could have been a lot tougher on Rosberg than he was. He drove slowly all race, but he could have backed him up much more aggressively than he did, rather than gradually turning the screw. The only thing he did ‘wrong’ was to break the Mercedes rules of engagement. But you have to question whether those rules should even have been there in this situation.”
Christian Horner: “It was only ever going to be that kind of battle between the two of them. He won the race as slowly as he could. It’s like in a football game where the team might protect from the opposition by kicking the ball around and not enabling the opposition to get hold of the ball. I didn’t see that he did anything wrong. Winning the race was never going to be enough for Lewis and he drove a tactical race. He didn’t do anything dirty, he didn’t do anything against the rules. I think it would be unfair to criticise Lewis for the way that he drove.”
Joe Saward (F1 Journalist): “Lewis did a quite brilliant job. He didn’t need to block. He just slowed the pace and Nico could do nothing but sweat. Even he described Lewis’s tactical driving as “perfect”. It was one of the most remarkable drives I have seen in my 500 Grands Prix.”
Nico Rosberg: “Lewis was using all his skill to do it perfectly, so there was absolutely no way for me to manage to get by. He did it in a very good way, in a perfect way. We can just drop the whole discussion. There’s no point discussing this topic any more. It’s done and it’s in the past.”
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